In my thriller I blend the facts I heard fire-fighters discussing into a dramatic fictional plot, creating a powerful novel. This was in 2008 when my husband was a fire fighter on Red Watch, Southsea. IN COLD DAYLIGHT went on to be shortlisted for the World Book Day Prize.
The fire-fighters were discussing the unusually high number of their colleagues who had contracted cancer. Many believed their cancer was due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in the line of duty. Since writing In Cold Daylight, after a three year study prompted by 9/11, research from the University of Cincinnati found that rates of testicular cancer were a hundred per cent higher and prostate cancer twenty-eight percent higher among fire-fighters. In addition, the researchers also discovered a fifty percent increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Researchers say fire-fighters are exposed to many compounds designated as carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents including benzene, chloroform, soot, styrene and formaldehyde. These can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin at the scene of a fire.
Now recent research from the University of Lancashire has found that the deaths caused by cancer in fire fighters under the age of 75 is three times higher than that of the general population. Cancers include skin, mouth, throat, kidneys and liver.
In 2008 the link between fire fighters and cancer was already there but nobody was willing to acknowledge it. Since then studies in America have proved it but nothing has been done about it. Now, ten years later, since my thriller In Cold Daylight was published, we have another study confirming that fire-fighters suffer from certain cancers at a higher rate than others.
Thriller highlights the death of firefighters from cancer
Fire-fighter, Jack Bartholomew is killed in the line of duty before he can reveal the cause of his own and his colleagues’ cancer. In a cryptic message orchestrated before his untimely death, Jack has left a trail of clues that will lead his closest friend, marine artist, Adam Greene into a labyrinth of lies, secrets and government conspiracy exposing an environmental scandal that has resulted in the deaths of fire fighters.
Fire-fighters spend a career facing toxic dangers, in the name of protecting the public. It is an occupational risk and should be recognised. When a fire-fighter dies from a cancer identified as occupational, their families need and deserve appropriate compensation. Although In Cold Daylight is fiction there is a strong central message in the novel and readers might like to ask can this really be happening? If In Cold Daylight increases the debate then that’s all to the good.
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